How and how far did orality play a part in the circulation of literature in early modern Italy? A lecture by Professor Brian Richardson.
The literary culture of the period can be seen, in the terms of Walter Ong, as ‘residually oral’, since many kinds of compositions were diffused through the voice, in speech or song, as well as, or rather than, in writing. This paper will consider which kinds of texts might be performed, the occasions on which they were performed in public or in private, the professionals or amateurs who performed them, how and in which varieties of languages they were performed, using evidence from contemporary accounts and from the texts themselves. It will also suggest possible answers to the more difficult question of what the perceived benefits of performance might have been for the performer and the audience.